Universal acclaim - based on 30 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 148 Ratings

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  • Summary: Condemned to six years in prison, Malik El Djebena cannot read or write. Arriving at the jail entirely alone, he appears younger and more fragile than the other convicts. He is 19 years old. Cornered by the leader of the Corsican gang who rules the prison, he is given a number of "missions" to carry out, toughening him up and gaining the gang leader's confidence in the process. But Malik is brave and a fast learner, daring to secretly develop his own plans. (Sony Pictures Classics) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 30
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 30
  3. Negative: 0 out of 30
  1. Why do we care? Because never before have the steps to thugdom, as depressing as that destination may be, been so rigorously detailed, neither romanticized nor negated. Don’t miss.
  2. Reviewed by: James Adams
    One caveat: At the risk of sounding sexist, let me say A Prophet is an unreservedly male film. Female characters are few and far between, and when they do appear, they pretty much fall into either one of two categories – les mamans ou les putains.
  3. 88
    It’s imperfect, but it’s daring, bold, and from a director who isn’t scared of anything.
  4. A Prophet pushes its protagonist into circumstances he did not choose but in which he watches and learns and kills and eventually becomes all he can be, albeit criminally. Certainly Muslims living in France have embraced the movie and Malik, played by Rahim
  5. Rahim and Arestrup are both so outstanding that if this were an English-language film, they'd probably be nominated for Oscars, too.
  6. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    A compelling piece of naturalistic filmmaking, claustrophobic and thought-provoking.

See all 30 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. Nov 23, 2010
    What is really great about this movie, is the simplicity of it. An Arabian man who is sentenced to six years in prison soon is confronted by a Corsican gang who gives him several tasks to do, soon becoming a ruthless gang member, and he can't even read or write.There is this sense of immense greatness toward Malik who is only 19 years old and seems like the only nice guy who won't shoot an inmate. And the Corsican gang seems to be his only refuge, even if he doesn't like it. The plot is simply told, not through verbal communication, but in several instances where the filmakers step you outside the movie and try to tell you, "This is Malik now." He soon becomes productive, and ruthless. He slowly rebuilds his life. A perfect crime drama that has things anybody could ask for in one. Expand
  2. Sep 2, 2010
    "A Prophet" is a completely engrossing experience that plays out like a genre film, colliding gangster politics and prison society for a satisfying thriller. However, what really gives the film its drive is the grit and social realism (two aspects rarely afforded by genre) packed into every scene, giving a completely unique crime drama. Unfortunately, the fact that it is French allowed it to fly completely under the American radar - though I doubt it will ever be as iconic or influential, I hope time will allow the movie to takes its rightful place along the ranks of "The Godfather" and "Goodfellas". Expand
  3. j30
    Jan 26, 2012
    The gritty, French crime drama A Prophet is irresistible. It almost feels like a Martin Scorsese picture with all the underlying themes (particularly racism and social class). Expand
  4. Oct 1, 2010
    Simply a fantastic movie! Its gritty, intense, and yet somehow its not at all over the top. The fact that its almost entirely in subtitles did not hinder me in the least from enjoying this magnificent picture. Everyone's acting is top notch. The plot is woven to perfection, and the movie has this realistic feel almost like your standing next to everything that's happening. The movie certainly addresses racial, cultural, and religious tension as our main protagonist hops back and forth between the world of the Corsicans and that of the Muslims (He himself is of mixed decent and in a lot of ways is not fully accepted by either side). The movie is long and when you think about its rather slow, but while watching it, it really doesn't feel that way. I don't want to spoil to much for you, but for any fan of the crime genre or just quality movies in general this film is an absolute must see! Expand
  5. Jul 8, 2013
    Indeed, crime pays in "A Prophet,” the most widely valued French underworld thriller in decades, recognized as one of the best-developed crime dramas, and one of the most compelling crime figures in recent cinema history. “A Prophet” is the kind of film that makes you remember why going to the movies can be a thrilling experience.

    The film tells the story of how a 19-year-old Arab youth with no family or relatives who enters a French prison as a scared, illiterate young man and emerges six years later as the area’s indisputable mob kingpin. It’s a hard-won journey and a metamorphosis of dubious merit that creates a tone that is both inspirational and terrifying. "A Prophet" follows the life of Malik (Tahar Rahim), a young Frenchman of Arab descent, who enters prison as an outsider and is shaped into an adult criminal from the inside. He is a blank slate who has been disposed of by proper society, yet able to rise within the prison hierarchy due to his innate intelligence and sheer will to survive. The prison is under the control of, in essence, by a Corsican gang of inmates headed by César Luciani (Niels Arestrup), whose word is law. César sees everything but expresses little.

    Shortly after his arrival, Malik is ordered by César to murder of another prisoner, an action that grants him protection. The murder sequence is absolutely gripping from his preparation for the act, to how Malik finally pulls it off. His reaction to this brutal initiation is stunningly depicted as it forever haunts Malik. In the years the to come, Malik transforms before our very eyes. Malik's rise to power is chronicled in a logical and believable manner. His ascension through the ranks comes primarily from careful observation and taking advantage of opportunities as they arise. He also manipulates; when he learns that César thinks all Arabs are stupid, he uses the revelation to his advantage.

    Director Jacques Audiard effortlessly constructs a foreboding landscape with complicated rules, and developing characters that are compelling and empathetic, even as they commit heinous acts. Rahim perfectly telegraphs his maturation from petty thief to major player in a brilliant performance that relies much less on words, than the confidence he exudes in his actions. He doesn't need to tell us that he is taking charge of the prison, or surpassing Cesar, we just watch it happen. The film's brutal, realistic violence is not for the faint for heart, but fans of raw, gripping cinema shouldn't be put off; "A Prophet" demands to be seen.

    “A Prophet” was a 2010 Academy Award Nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, and winner of the 2010 London Film Critics Award for Best Picture of the Year. The film won a total of nine César Awards in 2010 (the French equivalent of the Oscar), including best actor (Rahim), best director, and best picture.
  6. Apr 9, 2011
    This is up there with "Midnight Express" and "The Shawshank Redemption" as one of the best prison films ever made. A graphic portrayal of the rise of a small-time criminal into a big-time Mafia boss all while serving a six year sentence in prison. "A Prophet" has already established itself as crime drama classic and it's only a few years old now. Director Jacques Audiard is something of a master of the genre in France, a French Scorsese one might say. In fact, this film shares a lot of similarities with the best crime drama of all time, "Goodfellas". Besides the similar narrative, the two films share one big thing in common: Both films tackle so much and fit a lot into their 150 minute plus runtimes, yet it doesn't feel rushed or sloppy. Executed with ease, this film bowls over a lot of plot points in such little time, but in the end you want to see more. It's a saga that really satisfies and what kept me interested was the charismatic performance of newcomer Tahar Rahim as the film's main character, Malik El Djebena. If you like "Goodfellas" or, even if you don't, "A Prophet" is a must see. One of the most popular films of 2009, it won the Grand Prix at Cannes and was nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. Jacques Audiard's "A Prophet" is a timeless crime epic that is virtually flawless and remains refreshingly original, which is hard to in such a predictable genre. Expand
  7. QuincyH
    Feb 27, 2010
    I think it should read, "Malik El Djebena cannot read NOR write". I love the concept of this website, I just want to keep your guys on your editing toes. Thanks for the service. Expand

See all 27 User Reviews


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